Advice and questions on making and fixing instruments
User avatar
By drtom
#39103
Hey Djembegals and Djembefallas. Why's it been so quiet around here?

Anyway, a nice lady sent me pictures of a djembe wondering if it was worth restoring for her son. My question to you is twofold:

Is the djembe worth restoring?

What kind of wood is that?

This would make a great quiz, but since I'm not !00% sure about the answer to the second question I won't pretend otherwise.
User avatar
By the kid
#39104
Ghanian djembe. Twenboa wood. You know by the large carve marks plus the soft wood plus that shape.

It's worth fixing it, as in, cash in the pocket doesn't hurt. Some people are perfectly happy with this style drum and like the sound. Has a boomy bass with not so harsh slaps and tones. I find the sound lame enough. I guess for the opposite reasons why someone likes the sound. But they are not too bad but if someone gave me one i'd give it away again to someone else who would appreciate it.

A prerequisite for a quiz would be people to partake plus an incentive but what would i know :ubergeek:
User avatar
By drtom
#39105
the kid wrote:Ghanian djembe. Twenboa wood. You know by the large carve marks plus the soft wood plus that shape.
From the picture that was exactly my guess for exactly the same reasons - the appearance of the wood, the general shape and decorative carvings of the shell. Just made me think of Ghanian tweneboa, but I wasn't sure enough to come right out and say it was soft wood. Can you tell soft wood from a picture? I guess if you can tell it's tweneboa you know it's soft.

I'd love to hear other opinions. I think if a few of you stick with me and share your insights this could be fun and informative.
the kid wrote:A prerequisite for a quiz would be people to partake plus an incentive but what would i know :ubergeek:
Let's just try to enjoy the ride. I'm hoping to learn something along the way.
User avatar
By the kid
#39106
Yea, i guess you'd need to touch it, taste it and smell it to know for sure. The carve marks i'm talking about are the tool marks in the bowl. The soft wood can be hacked with a larger tool and is in typical Ghanaian drums. Not much care to create a ledge in the inner bowl either. Mass produced quickly and cheap to buy in bulk basically.
User avatar
By drtom
#39107
the kid wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 3:21 pm
The carve marks i'm talking about are the tool marks in the bowl. The soft wood can be hacked with a larger tool and is in typical Ghanaian drums.
Now I get you. That makes good sense.

The drum was sent to me for repair, so I've had a first hand look. Here's a better look at the inner carving. The picture is of decent quality, so you should be able to zoom in.

What about the decorative carving on the outside? Anyone recognize that? Maybe it's just someone's personal aesthetic and has no cultural significance, but it reminded me of other Ghana djembes I've seen.
User avatar
By the kid
#39108
There was a thread years ago where a ghanian djembe maker was defending his own craftsman ship and explaining there are good types of Tweanboa, with different shades of wood. At least thats what i remember. I reckon Michi went as far as to buy a drum from the guy to test it but my memory is vague on that point.

I would presume there are different types of wood in Ghana considering it's geographical location so close to burkina and ivory coast. Could be the djembe makers just used the softer wood as it is easier to carve and grows quickker or is the only wood available. It would be interesting to hear why this wood seems to dominate the drum production there.

There was a thread LATELY WHERE I ELABORATELY DECSRIBED SOME POSSIBLE ORIGIONS OF SOME DESIGNS ON A DJEMBE FROM GAMBIA OR sENEga(excuse the caps, new laptop is crap lol compared to my work horse which i need to go back to), and you might want to check it out. Surely the symbols mean something but is that really the purpose of why they are on the drum is another question. I reckon it is simply decoration and embellishment as others do it and it looks nice.

I wanted to post a pic of my mates art from Cassamance to show the use of these symbols and designs but can't remember how to post a pic.
User avatar
By drtom
#39109
The first thing that struck me about the shell once I had my hands on it was how weathered it was. I mean, who knows how long it had been left out in the sun, rain, heat and cold.

Then I noticed how thin the shell was for a tweneboa shell. Take another look and see if you don't agree that tweneboa shells tend to be carved MUCH thicker to compensate for the softness of the wood.

And the shell is extremely well carved for a tweneboa shell from Ghana (I truly don't mean to offend Ghanians, I know there are exceptions but facts are facts). The bearing edge is virtually flawless.
User avatar
By the kid
#39113
Yea the interior looks the least tweanboa. Thats why i mentioned the ghanian carver talking about warmer shades of tweanboa. Almost looks like lenge, but i never seen djembe wood having all those little branch knots before. It is hard to id anyways as there could be many woods really and mainly we would presume it's ghanian and tweanboa due to the exterior aesthetic. Also the drum may have been worked on at some stage which would be why the bearing edge is tidy and the rope is different than normal. If we could fish up that old thread i spoke off, i reckon there was well carved ghanian wood there too. What i always wonder though is why don't carvers experiment with the shape a bit when using softer wwood and use more extreme proportions. Can't hurt.
User avatar
By drtom
#39115
the kid wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 2:52 pm
Almost looks like lenge, but i never seen djembe wood having all those little branch knots before.
Good eye! Don't know if I would have noticed that in a picture, but in person I sure did. This really struck me. I'd never seen nearly that many knots at once.
the kid wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 2:52 pm
mainly we would presume it's ghanian and tweanboa due to the exterior aesthetic.
The aesthetics and the color and general appearance of the wood made me think "Ghana" and "tweneboa". By coincidence this other djembe came in a couple of days ago.
tweneboa-djembe.jpg
tweneboa-djembe.jpg (494.01 KiB) Viewed 287 times
Very similar aesthetics and typical of Ghana djembes, I would say. This drum is also very light, as is typical of tweneboa shells.

The shell we've been discussing is not light, especially considering the relatively thin walls. I tried digging my thumbnail into it and could barely make a mark. This is not the hardest, densest wood, but it's not tweneboa.

I gave the shell a good cleaning and oiling and the poor, neglected, starving shell sucked it all up. I could swear I heard slurping sounds!

By the way, here's a better look at those knots.
Attachments
djmebe-knots.jpg
djmebe-knots.jpg (733.85 KiB) Viewed 287 times
User avatar
By drtom
#39123
Doesn't seem to be much interest in this, so I'll spare you the interesting details and cut to the chase. I'd hoped someone would share a bit of their knowledge.

I now believe this shell is iroko. It became a fine djmebe, once I mounted a nice skin with new rings and rope.
User avatar
By the kid
#39125
Lets hear the details. You know there are 10 or 15 nerds or less and a few bots out there waiting for the docs report on this djembe. Personally i'd like to see more pics and hear any info you got on it. Could it be the Iroko, i've just seen a few of them. Makes some sense with the grain but still the knots are a weird one.

I was(am lol) an absolute gimp and sold one drum a friend sorted for me of the Iroko wood. I needed to give a relation a drum and was too lazy to build one and gave the iroko. Kinda sweet drum, not too big, light with sexy carve and large sound hole. Now is sitting gathering dust in their house. I get dirty looks when i offer to buy it back. I need to swap it on the sly some time. ;)
User avatar
By drtom
#39167
drtom wrote:And the shell is extremely well carved for a tweneboa shell from Ghana (I truly don't mean to offend Ghanians, I know there are exceptions but facts are facts).
By coincidence, another tweneboa shell from Ghana showed up at the shop just a couple of days after. One of the exceptions I mention.

This one was well carved and even has a ring ledge. If it wasn't tweneboa, I might have thought it was carved in Ivory Coast. I would guess this is a very hastily carved shell carved by a very skilled craftsman. The shell is not meticulously carved, but there is not a single poorly executed stroke anywhere on the shell. This carver knew how to use the tools and work the grain.
Attachments
tweneboa-djembe.jpg
tweneboa-djembe.jpg (441.01 KiB) Viewed 85 times